German sneaker label Ekn Footwear has collaborated with designer Rokaiya Ahmed Purna from Bangladesh to create a vegan sneaker made entirely in Portugal. In doing so, Ekn Footwear is challenging the industry's traditional manufacturing model done of producing in countries of the Global South and designing in Europe or North America.
Model “Kamthala” (Bengali for jackfruit, the country's national fruit) is entirely vegan, made from recycled faux leather and neoprene. It features a wedge sole and yellow colour accents in the heel that have been inspired by a ripe jackfruit.
"The sneaker’s front picks up on the fruit's signature spiky look, while the majority of the upper is a textured grey whose colour is meant to evoke the bark of the jackfruit tree," explains the label in a statement.
In the collections for her label, Dhaka-based designer Rokaiya Ahmed Purna (RAP) reinterprets traditional Bangladeshi patterns and fabrics to create a distinctly modern look.
Ekn Footwear GmbH was founded in 2015 by Noel Klein-Reesink, who spent years searching for the perfect skate shoe and has worked for big brands in the sporting goods industry. Through these experiences, he recognised the urgent need for stylish, well-made and sustainable sneakers. The label's philosophy “Made in friendship” aims to counter unfair and climate-damaging production practices.
“The shoe is a statement - a sign of respect. Because in a fair world, no privileged party exists. If fairness is the goal, we should share our aspirations,” states Klein-Reesink.
The unisex sneaker is available in sizes 36 to 46 and costs 200 euros (around 218 US dollars / 176 British pounds).